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  • Ley, my heart goes out to you. I don’t have any words of wisdom that I think could possibly help you out, but since this is a community of story-tellers, I have a story to share with you. I have no idea why this story came to mind, as it has nothing to do with the situation you’re in, but part of it has to do with happiness, and it’s just what came into this story-teller brain as I thought about what to say, so there you have it. If nothing else, you will find many, many different stories of interest here. Some will speak of impossible struggles to achieve happiness, some successful, some still strufggling. I wish you nothing but the very best on your journey from the crap hand of cards you’ve been dealt to a place of true joy and happiness. I am seeing you in that place.

    I have a background in 12 Step programs, where eventually, after trying every other damned thing that was offered in those rooms, many of which didn’t help me get well but did fill my head with a lot of happy crap that gave me something to do, i.e., scratching my same befuddled head as I chased pithy pop psychology sayings and slogans from meeting to meeting to meeting, when “all I wanted was the truth, just gimme some truth” (thank you, John Lennon), I FINALLY got what I came for…full recovery from addiction and a new way of life in which I got comfortable in my own skin without the need for mind-altering substances to get me there, and eventually even found a level of happiness and joyful living that were way the hell beyond anything I could possibly have imagined. (THAT, I believe, was the longest sentence I have ever written – I think.)

    On the way to that place, I had a real jem of a sponsor – one of the two that walked me through the 12 Steps which got me well. Joe was a haberdasher from South Philly – I know, I know, who finds redemption in South Philly, of all places? I did. Joe had a very authoritative way of putting things – like, when he said them, you believed him. There was no way to mistake the meaning of what he said.

    Once, as we discussed some aspect of whatever step we were going over, one of the many slogans I had picked up in my years of sitting in those rooms, swigging coffee, desperately seeking truth, rolled off of my tongue – “Well, they say that everything happens for a reason, right?” Joe just fixed me with that unmistable South Philly Haberdasher stare he wore on such occasisons, and said, “No, absolutely not. Not true. Where did you pick that up? Let me tell what I know about that. Everything does not happen ‘for a reason’ – everything happens FOR A VERY GOOD REASON! We just usually don’t know what the hell that reason is when it happens. And you know what? It’s none of our damn business what the reason is. It won’t help us get well. Forget about it, man. Leave that one in the rooms. All ya gotta worry about is ‘what do I do now to get well?’ Later on, the reasons may or may not make sense, but for now, it’s none of your damned business. Your business is to get well, so you can maybe, just maybe, help out the next sick sombitch that comes through that door”.

    I loved Joe. I had the kind of addict-mind that if you gave me any wiggle room whatsoever on a subject or “suggestion”, I was off to the races, and would come up with a million different versions of it, none of which were anywhere close to the mark. With Joe, there was no wiggle room. It was, simply, if you meant business, this is what you did to get well, period, that’s it, end of story, plain and simple. Do this, and you can get well. Even you. Even a psycho, wacko head-case like you, if you can get out of your own way, can get this thing. Joe could get away with saying that, because Joe had been all of that. And now, he was unmistably well. And, I was beat down enough, had tried every other thing, chased every rabbit down every hole and come up empty each time, that I listened and followed his “suggestions”, and damn if every one of them didn’t work.

    Joe was the one who looked at me at one pivotal point, as we journeyed together through the 12 Steps, and said, simply, with a broad grin on his face, “Pete, the War is Over, brother. Peace has been declared upon the land. You are a free man”. And, he was right. From that day, 28 years ago, to this, the war that once raged within my troubled mind, which used to tear up my soul and leave nothing but scorched earth and emptiness within, has been a thing of the past. Every now and then, if I get away from my ‘daily maintenance’ – morning meditation, daily inventory, promptly admitting when I’m wrong – I will hear the distant thunder of canon and feel the rumbling of the ground troops swelling and stirring about, ready to do battle. That’s when I know it’s time to get back to basics. I’ll hear Joe saying, “Do this everyday, even when nothing happens, you don’t feel anything, you just do it, because this is what we do. This is what keeps the sick away. Happiness? What is that? For me, happiness is knowing that I’ll be there for Joey Junior. That I won’t be in some flea-ridden, rat-infested shooting gallery when I should be taking him to soccer practice or music lessons. That’s happiness. And, I’ll take it.”

    Me too, Joe. I’m in. And, fortunately, happiness did come. Joyful living happened. Abundance happened. Peace has grown and spread across this land, and onto others. I don’t always know the reasons…and frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about ‘em. As Joe said, it’s none of my damn business. My business is living my life, doing what’s next to do in front of me. It’s a damned good life.
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